Broadband Fund
About the Fund

How are we closing the digital divide?

Note: increases in year 4 and 5 are contingent on a review of the Fund in year 3.

Long Description

To be awarded: $750 M for the first five years

Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
$100 M $125 M $150 M $175 M $200 M

Canada’s vast landscape with varying geography and climate presents unique challenges in providing high-quality broadband Internet access services for all Canadians. In particular, many rural and remote areas do not have services comparable in speed, capacity, quality or price to what is offered in urban centres. The CRTC recognizes this problem and has set out a Universal Service Objective:

Canadians in urban, rural and remote areas have access to voice and broadband Internet access services, on both fixed (50 Mbps down, 10 Mbps up) and mobile wireless networks (latest general deployed mobile wireless technology currently LTE).

- Modern telecommunications services – The path forward for Canada’s digital economy (Telecom Regulatory Policy 2016-496)

To close the remote/rural and urban digital divide and in order to meet this objective, existing infrastructure across Canada needs to be upgraded and new infrastructure needs to be built. This will require a great deal of time and money and a collective effort from all levels of government and the industry. The CRTC has established a $750 million Fund to help provide all Canadians with access to broadband Internet and mobile wireless services: the Broadband Fund.

  • How will the success of the Universal Service Objective be measured?

    To measure the successful achievement of this objective, we have established several criteria, including:

    • Canadian residential and business fixed broadband Internet access service subscribers should be able to access speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 10 Mbps upload, and to subscribe to a service offering with an unlimited data allowance; and
    • The latest generally deployed mobile wireless technology (currently LTE) should be available not only in Canadian homes and businesses, but on as many major transportation roads as possible in Canada.
  • Is the Broadband Fund’s eligibility criteria final?

    The policy detailing Broadband Fund and the criteria, Telecom Regulatory Policy CRTC 2018-377, is final. We may conduct future consultation processes to review the eligibility and assessment criteria for the fund as needed.

  • Who will benefit from greater broadband access?

    The Fund is intended to benefit all Canadians that live in areas that are underserved (i.e., that do not have Universal Service Objective level broadband Internet access and mobile wireless service), particularly those in rural and remote areas.

    Canadians looking for information about whether funded projects will benefit their area will be able to do so on our website when the selected projects are announced.

  • How will the funding be awarded?

    To ensure that the funding is awarded fairly and with the greatest benefits to Canadians, funding will be awarded as follows:

    1. Call for Applications.
      The CRTC will issue calls for applications that addresses the gaps in services in Canada.
      • Eligibility, Assessment and Selection.
        A team at the CRTC will review each proposal for eligibility. Next, they will evaluate each eligible project against the assessment criteria to identify a set of high-quality projects. From this set of high-quality projects, the CRTC will select projects for funding, based on project selection considerations.
    2. Approved Projects.
      Once the projects are selected, the CRTC will publish a decision to announce the projects that will be awarded funding.
    3. Monitoring and Compliance.
      Funding recipients will be required to submit data on the broadband and/or mobile wireless services they will provide over their funded infrastructure. The CRTC will publish this data in its annual Communications Monitoring Report (CMR).
  • Where does the money come from?

    Funding does NOT come from tax revenues.
    The funding comes directly from contributions made by larger Canadian telecommunications service providers whose total annual Canadian revenues amount to at least over $10 million.

  • What kinds of projects will be funded?

    Funding will be provided to three types of projects:

    Project Type New or upgraded… Benefit to Canadians
    Transport Projects … broadband Internet transport network capacity to one or more interconnection points
    • Provides higher capacity in speeds, better quality of service, and greater data allowance for underserved communities.
    • Results in better broadband Internet access service, better service packages with higher speeds and data allowances.
    Access Projects … fixed broadband Internet access network infrastructure to connect communities to an interconnection point on the transport network
    • Provides many social benefits including new ways to provide education to Canadians, deliver quality health care, access and distribute information, find employment, access governmental services and participate in democracy.
    • Facilitates economic benefits such as the development of inventions and new goods, different services, innovative processes and business models.
    • Increases economic competitiveness.
    Mobile Wireless Projects … mobile wireless network to communities and/or along major transportation roads
    • Positive impacts on Canada’s public safety such as emergency calling and first responder connectivity especially in communities and on highways that do not have access to mobile wireless services.
  • What are the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy?

    The Universal Broadband Fund is Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)’s new program and is currently under development.

    Updates pertaining to ISED’s upcoming Universal Broadband Fund

    Canada’s Connectivity Strategy is a national plan for broadband being led by ISED to connect all Canadians to affordable, high-speed Internet and to improve mobile cellular access.

    More information on Canada's Connectivity Strategy

  • Will the CRTC provide regulatory oversight and help define eligibility requirements for the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy?

    No, we will not provide regulatory oversight of the Universal Broadband Fund and Canada’s Connectivity Strategy. However, we are committed to working with all levels of government, where appropriate, to achieve the goal of providing fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet service to underserved Canadians. We established the Broadband Fund to assist in funding projects to build or upgrade access and transport infrastructure for fixed and mobile wireless broadband Internet access services to achieve the universal service objective, in order to close the gap in connectivity in underserved areas. Federal departments, as well as some provincial, territorial, and municipal governments, also provide funding through their own broadband initiatives.

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